The Florida Bar Family Law Section Monthly Newsletter
Please submit news and articles to FAMSEG Editor Ron Kauffman.

Abigail M. Beebe
Does anyone else hear, often, from your partners, children or others that you are a work-a-holic? When your work is helping clients work through dicey personal life problems, work-life balance can feel like a pipe dream. How many of you have heard "you are never here or even when you are here, you are really at work."
So often we say we are committed to, for example, having work-life balance. But when you are radically honest about what we are doing, we are actually committed to being stressed and constantly feeling distracted.
How do you move beyond that hurried, frustrating state? Here are some things I've discovered in a little reading on this topic, from "experts": In life when email, telephones and other client related matters are the third wheel in every relationship you have, it is understandable that you aren't bringing your best self to the table after a long day of putting out fires at work. Not every night will be an opportunity to connect, unwind or spend time with those people who are important to you. Instead of beating yourself up over it, work on getting the most out of the quality of time you do manage to squeeze in.
The goal should be to protect your energy more than your time. If you're someone who's incredibly focused on your career and doesn't consider work "work," try to help others in your life see the benefits in your enthusiasm.
Look at it this way: Your work life and personal life are reciprocal, not two competing areas of your life, according to Naz Beheshti, an executive wellness coach and consultant who got her start as a personal and executive assistant to Steve Jobs.
As one who is guilty of being a work-a-holic and also loving what I do, I can say with certainty that this repeated struggle of trying to strike a healthy work-life balance is an everyday challenge, harder than any fact pattern or trial prep session. Trying to make sure that I spend enough time with my family and friends and pay attention to other matters in my life, not even addressing or including my office, staff and clients here, is at times an insurmountable challenge. My work, undoubtedly, consumes me. When I am not stressing about a hearing or court order received or waiting to receive, I am instead contemplating actions I need to take in other cases and emails and telephone calls I need to attend to. This is all while I am also trying to tend to my children's school work, tests, projects, games and practices, not including their social lives, birthday parties or sleep overs. I've said it before, but the struggle of this juggle is real.
When we love what we do, that joy and fulfillment ripples through our relationships and can result in positive outcomes. For people like this, asking them to scale back is like asking a kid to scale back on their play time rather than accepting and allowing them to do what they love most.
You don't want to have someone dull your shine when it comes to work, but it's not asking too much to put your phone away every now and then. Commit to spending a certain amount of minutes, hours or days with no electronic distractions. Don't panic, start small, like an hour after you get home, but before the kids go to bed or time enough to eat dinner without the distraction.
I practice setting aside time, reminders and calendar events to ensure I manage my time, prioritize items on the never-ending to-do list and carve out time to be with those who matter, outside of work.  

When frustrations over work and home life start to get the best of me, I have been working on trying to learn ways to respond to frustrations in a non-triggered, nonreactive way. It requires thoughtful, mindfulness of our own interactions and reactions. This goes for all people in your life. Instead of losing it on my kids over something silly, I try to stop, breathe and react to the situation, appropriately.
Scheduling some time when you are work-obsessed to ensure those others in your life understand their importance to you, is key. Instead of ending up being constantly reminded that you should scale back, which likely only ignites fury, planning and carving out that time helps you create a better work-life balance and this term now becomes a verb instead of being a noun. You have to actually do the "life" part to make work-life balance a reality instead of a wish list item.  

When I am told or reminded that I work too much or let my work consume me, I used to get frustrated, defensive and annoyed. Now, I try not to immediately respond negatively. Instead, it is less stressful, and healthier to request to take a day off or leave early on occasion for something or someone. It seems logical, like we explain to children, caregivers and teachers, positive reinforcement or interactions go a whole lot farther than negative.
Have you ever tried to approach your personal or other types of relationships with as much vigor as you would a work situation or problem? Try organizing your life weekly or even monthly to allow yourself to organize, consider conflicts, set expectations and arrange your priorities. At the end of the day, fine-tuning your life (and schedule) will benefit you, your family, friends, and your clients and likely lead to more productivity all around.
As I inch into my 40th year, with my birthday literally just this past weekend, I am reminded to cherish people who are important, take time for myself and be present. Life is short and sometimes the days, weeks and even months feel like forever, but overall life goes by so quickly. Real friends, true relationships and making priorities that deserve that status, in your life, are truly the most important.

Happy March and here's to work-life balance being a verb rather than a noun,
Abigail M. Beebe, West Palm Beach
2018-2019 Chair, Family Law Section of The Florida Bar
Get Involved in the Family Law Section!
Submit applications by March 15 for the Family Law Section Executive Council, section Secretary (an Executive Committee position), section committees and the Legislation Committee. Section service is an excellent way to network with family lawyers from across the state and enhance your leadership skills. Your involvement can make a significant difference in the section's important work on behalf of Florida families.

Please download the forms and complete your applications based on your interests and qualifications. To apply for the Executive Council or for Secretary, email your completed application and a photograph of yourself no later than March 15 to Abigail M. Beebe, Chair, and Willie Mae Shepherd, Family Law Section Administrator, Application instructions for section committees or the Legislation Committee are included on the forms.
Applications for the 2019-2020 Bar year:
Live committee meetings occur three times during the Bar year: Fall Meetings (Sept. 19-22, 2019, at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel in Orlando); Midyear Meetings in conjunction with the 2020 Marital and Family Law Review Course (Jan. 30-Feb. 1, 2020, at the Loews Royal Pacific Resort in Orlando); and Annual Meeting (June 17-18, 2020, at the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek in Orlando). Some committees also elect to hold conference call meetings at other times during the year. 
Apply by March 15 for Trial Advocacy Workshop Scholarships

The Family Law Section is excited to be offering six scholarships for individuals to attend the section's Trial Advocacy Workshop at the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina July 25-28, 2019! The section will waive the workshop registration fee and reimburse each scholarship recipient up to $500 after receipt of proof of payment of travel and hotel expenses. Each recipient must attend all workshop meetings and functions and is responsible for expenses above $500.
Welcome Chelsea Miller to the Section's Executive Council
Congratulations to the Executive Council's newest member  Chelsea A. Miller, a family law attorney with Rossway Swan in Vero Beach. 

Chelsea has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Criminology with a minor in political science from the University of South Florida and a Juris Doctor degree from Seton Hall University School of Law. While at Seton Hall, she served as a judicial intern for United States Magistrate Judge Tonianne J. Bongiovanni and The Honorable James G. Troiano, who presided over the Family Law division.

Chelsea serves on the board of the Junior League of Indian River and is a dedicated member of the The Florida Bar Family Law Section, where she is an active member of the Continuing Legal Education, Equitable Distribution and Support Issues committees. Contact at or (772) 231-4400. 
Upcoming CLE Opportunities
How to Get the Most Out of a Social Investigation/
Parenting Plan Evaluation
March 7, 2019   Noon - 1 p.m.
Live Audio Webcast
Dr. Jennifer L. Mockler
Prese nted by Jennifer L. Mockler, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist with Mockler Psychology, P.A. in Tampa. Moderated by Chelsea A. Miller, Esq.

Hear it straight from the source: How do you get the most out of a social investigation or parenting plan evaluation? How do you read one? What questions should you ask of the evaluator? What should your client do or not do during the evaluation? How do you ensure the evaluator is considering all the statutory factors when developing his/her opinions and recommendations?

Approved for 1.0 CLE; 1.0 Marital & Family Law CLE. Course No. 2960. Family Law Section members register for only $75.  Sponsored by LawPay.
In-State Retreat: Register by March 22

Register online now and join your friends and colleagues from the Family Law Section April 11-14 for networking, CLE and fun during the annual in-state retreat and executive council meeting at the beautiful, exclusive  Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo. Retreat chairs Heather Apicella, Trish Armstrong and Michelle Klinger Smith have scheduled a CLE on Imago Therapy, as well as activities such as kayaking through the mangroves, a scavenger hunt on golf carts, and a lobster bake on the beach followed by a beach bonfire. Bring your family and enjoy all that this destination has to offer:  fishing, golf, nature center, fitness center, snorkeling the only living coral reef in America and other activities on the water. We hope to see you in the fabulous Florida Keys! You must make your reservation by March 22. Register, view the schedule and reserve rooms at this linkThis is  the retreat  that you don't want to miss!
2019 Legislative Update
May 9, 2019  Noon - 2 p.m.
Live Audio Webcast
The Family Law Section Legislation Committee co-chairs will discuss the results of the 2019 Florida legislative session, including new laws passed, bills introduced but not passed, practice pointers in light of the results, and more. 

Hear insights from  Co-chairs  Andrea Reid, Esq.,  Joseph Hunt, Esq. and  David Hirschberg, Esq. Moderated by  Jennifer Miller-Morse, Esq.

Approved for 2.0 General, 2.0 Marital & Family Law CLE credits. Course 2959. Family Law Section members register for only $75. Sponsored by LawPay.
Save the Date!
Paralegals Play Their Part: Skills Assisting Attorneys in a Happy and Healthy Family Law Practice
May 10, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Doubletree Riverfront, Jacksonville
Magistrate K. Beth Luna and Sarah Sullivan are co-chairs for this one-day CLE event for family law paralegals. Topics include effective intake and client management; preparation for mediations, hearings and trials; how to create a functional and favorable financial affidavit; client communication strategies; legal writing in tumultuous family litigation; ethical case management; the ethics of getting paid for legal work; case management; and how to ethically engage, bill and conclude the attorney-client relationship. The event will be followed by a Family Law Section membership reception. 

Course 2942 Approved for 8.0 General, 1.0 Ethics, 1.0 Mental Illness CLE credits.  Registration details coming soon.
2019 Alberto Romero Making a Difference Award
Please submit nominations by April 30 for the Family Law Section of The Florida Bar's 2019 Alberto Romero Making a Difference Award. The award recognizes the work of section members and affiliates who provide outstanding pro bono services, engage in significant volunteer community activities that improve the lives of Florida's children and families and encourage other section members to volunteer. Magistrate Diane Kirigin, a former section chair, founded the award. Jacksonville attorney Sarah Sullivan received the award in 2018. Through the Alberto Romero Making a Difference Award, the section publicly acknowledges those individuals who have made a difference in the lives of the underserved or disadvantaged within our state. 
The Alberto Romero Making a Difference Awards will be presented at the Family Law Section's Annual Luncheon in June. The section will select one member and one affiliate member to honor for their service and commitment to their communities. If you have questions, please contact Robin Scher at (561) 626-5640 or . Nomination submission instructions are on the form.
Only 80 spots available. In-person, live event. Scholarship applications due March 15.  Register online now

Make plans to attend the 2019 Trial Advocacy Workshop in July. Hone your trial skills as you prepare and present a family law case from beginning to end. Choose between a "Children's Issues" track or a "Financial Issues" track (preferences will be considered but are not guaranteed). Get details The Trial Advocacy Workshop always sells out, so take this opportunity to change the way you approach a contested family law proceeding and sharpen your trial tools. For those hoping to become board certified or recertified in Marital and Family Law, remember that completion of the Trial Advocacy Workshop counts toward your trial requirement. View event brochure .

Course No. 3186. General CLE: 29.5 hours; Ethics: 2.0 hours; Technology: 1.0 hours. Certification Program (max credit 29.5 hours): Marital and Family Law: 29.5 hours. Family Law Section members $940. Non-section members $995.
Stephens' Squibs by Eddie Stephens

Squib of the Month:

Dailey v. Roth, 44 Fla.L.Weekly D260 (Fla. 1st DCA 2019). A permanent injunction for protection against repeat violence cannot be used simply to compel civility and common decency; however, it would be helpful if the Circuit Court had the power to enter an Order requiring adults to act like grown-ups. 
YLD Launches #StigmaFreeYLD Campaign
Launched in February, the campaign  is designed to extinguish the prejudices that discourage people, especially competitive professionals, from admitting problems or seeking help. The YLD website describes it this way: "#StigmaFreeYLD aims to end ALL the stigmas that lawyers face when it comes to addressing mental health issues-and we want ALL of you to know that seeking help does NOT make you less of a lawyer, quite the contrary: It makes you a better, stronger lawyer."

Interviews with attorneys who have sought counseling and treatment for mental health and substance abuse issues are the cornerstone of the campaign and are posted on the YLD's  health and wellness page . Other testimonials will be posted on the first days of April and May.
Healthy Selfies

The Family Law Section supports healthy lifestyles! If you're running in a 5K, playing in a golf tournament or even just enjoying a family bike ride, take a selfie and send it to us! We want to spotlight section members and their families, friends and colleagues who are making wellness a priority. Email photos to Section Consultant Lisa Tipton so we can post them on Facebook and Twitter. Ideas for wellness tips or articles? Please email Health & Wellness Committee Co-Chairs  Laura Davis Smith or John Foster.

Signature Annual Sponsor

Gold Level

Law Firm Sponsor

Board Certification for Florida Family Lawyers
Interested in Marital & Family Law board certification through The Florida Bar? Certification is the Bar's highest level of evaluation of the competency and experience of attorneys in the 27 areas of law approved for certification by the Supreme Court of Florida. Board certification recognizes special knowledge, skills and proficiency in various areas of law and professionalism and ethics in practice. Initial applications for Marital & Family Law board certification will be available on April 1. Here are the requirements:
  • Practice of law for at least five years.
  • Substantial involvement in the specialty of marital and family law, 50 percent or more during the five years immediately preceding application.
  • Handling of at least 25 contested marital and family law cases in the five years immediately preceding application with substantial involvement in at least 18 contested marital and family law cases and at least seven trials. Note: The Family Law Section Trial Advocacy Workshop qualifies as one of the trials.
  • 75 hours of approved marital and family law certification continuing legal education in the give years immediately preceding application,
  • Peer review by lawyers and judges to ensure that the applicant has special knowledge, skills, proficiency, character and reputation for professionalism in the practice of marital and family law.
  • A written examination.
Sheena Benjamin-Wise

Who is someone who inspires you? I am inspired by Maya Angelou.
How do you define success? I define success as accomplishing your biggest dreams and goals that bring with it personal contentment and satisfaction.
Why do you practice family law? The Family Law practice allows me to connect individually with my clients so that they are protected, empowered, during challenging times, and assist them with adapting to the new family dynamics that result in divorce and paternity cases. I get to help my parent clients have the healthiest relationships possible with their children.
What is something few people know about you? How much I love Sci-Fi.
Favorite quote? Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.
Favorite family law case? Right now, Simmonds v. Perkins, 247 So. 3d 397 (2018).
Favorite book and why? The Color Purple. I enjoy stories of women discovering self-love and value.
Favorite TV show and why? The Walking Dead (earlier seasons). I am fascinated with the portrayal of humanity when subjected to extreme survival conditions.   
Favorite song lyric? THIS GIRL IS ON FIRE!
Favorite superhero? Wonder Woman, of course!
Best place you have traveled? Malaga, Spain.
Proudest accomplishment within the section? Serving as the Co-chair of the Children's Issues Committee and working in collaboration with the CLE Committee and brilliant speakers to present "Drafting Parenting Plans" Webinar CLE.
What benefits do you receive as a result of your section participation? There are so many benefits when working with the section, in particular I believe meeting other lawyers from everywhere in the state discussing pressing issues that impact Florida families. Bonding with members on trips to amazing places is great too!
Something we did not know about you? I love traveling.
Coffee or tea? COFFEE, always.
If you were stranded on a desert island, what three items could you not live without? My hubby, soap and coffee.
Anything else.... I am the proud mother of two amazing, loving and powerful daughters, 17-year-old Nyra and 6-year-old Maya.
The Family Law Section WANTS YOU to write for one of three publications: 
  • JournalTo be considered for publication in The Florida Bar Journal, the article should be scholarly and relate in some manner to family law. It should be 12-15 pages in length, complete with end notes. 
  • Commentator: The Family Law Section's glossy quarterly magazine. Articles could range from substantive articles to advice about lifestyle and wellness.
  • FAMSEG: Have an announcement? Pictures of a section event? FAMSEG is your place! Please contact Editor Ron Kauffman.
For more information about section publications, please contact Publications Committee Co-chairs Laura Davis Smith or Sonja Jean.
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